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IComparable(Of T) Interface

Defines a generalized comparison method that a value type or class implements to create a type-specific comparison method for ordering instances.

Namespace:  System
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

Public Interface IComparable(Of In T)

Type Parameters

In T

The type of objects to compare.

This type parameter is contravariant. That is, you can use either the type you specified or any type that is less derived. For more information about covariance and contravariance, see Covariance and Contravariance in Generics.

The IComparable(Of T) type exposes the following members.

Public methodSupported by the XNA FrameworkSupported by Portable Class LibraryCompareToCompares the current object with another object of the same type.

This interface is implemented by types whose values can be ordered; for example, the numeric and string classes. A value type or class implements the CompareTo(T) method to create a type-specific comparison method suitable for purposes such as sorting.

The IComparable(Of T) interface defines the CompareTo(T) method, which determines the sort order of instances of the implementing type. The IEquatable(Of T) interface defines the Equals method, which determines the equality of instances of the implementing type.

The implementation of the CompareTo(T) method must return an Int32 that has one of three values, as shown in the following table.



Less than zero

This object is less than the object specified by the CompareTo method.


This object is equal to the method parameter.

Greater than zero

This object is greater than the method parameter.

The IComparable(Of T) interface provides a strongly typed comparison method for ordering members of a generic collection object. Because of this, it is usually not called directly from developer code. Instead, it is called automatically by methods such as List(Of T).Sort and Add.

Notes to Implementers

Replace the type parameter of the IComparable(Of T) interface with the type that is implementing this interface.

The following code example illustrates the implementation of IComparable for a simple Temperature object. The example creates a SortedList(Of TKey, TValue) collection of strings with Temperature object keys, and adds several pairs of temperatures and strings to the list out of sequence. In the call to the Add method, the SortedList(Of TKey, TValue) collection uses the IComparable(Of T) implementation to sort the list entries, which are then displayed in order of increasing temperature.

Imports System.Collections.Generic

Public Class Temperature
    Implements IComparable(Of Temperature)

    ' Implement the generic CompareTo method with the Temperature class 
    ' as the type parameter. 
    Public Overloads Function CompareTo(ByVal other As Temperature) As Integer _
        Implements IComparable(Of Temperature).CompareTo

        ' If other is not a valid object reference, this instance is greater.
        If other Is Nothing Then Return 1

        ' The temperature comparison depends on the comparison of the
        ' the underlying Double values. 
        Return m_value.CompareTo(other.m_value)
    End Function

    ' The underlying temperature value.
    Protected m_value As Double = 0.0

    Public ReadOnly Property Celsius() As Double
            Return m_value - 273.15
        End Get
    End Property

    Public Property Kelvin() As Double
            Return m_value
        End Get
        Set(ByVal Value As Double)
            If value < 0.0 Then 
                Throw New ArgumentException("Temperature cannot be less than absolute zero.")
                m_value = Value
            End If
        End Set
    End Property

    Public Sub New(ByVal kelvins As Double)
        Me.Kelvin = kelvins 
    End Sub
End Class

Public Class Example
    Public Shared Sub Main()
        Dim temps As New SortedList(Of Temperature, String)

        ' Add entries to the sorted list, out of order.
        temps.Add(New Temperature(2017.15), "Boiling point of Lead")
        temps.Add(New Temperature(0), "Absolute zero")
        temps.Add(New Temperature(273.15), "Freezing point of water")
        temps.Add(New Temperature(5100.15), "Boiling point of Carbon")
        temps.Add(New Temperature(373.15), "Boiling point of water")
        temps.Add(New Temperature(600.65), "Melting point of Lead")

        For Each kvp As KeyValuePair(Of Temperature, String) In temps
            Console.WriteLine("{0} is {1} degrees Celsius.", kvp.Value, kvp.Key.Celsius)
    End Sub
End Class

' The example displays the following output:
'      Absolute zero is -273.15 degrees Celsius.
'      Freezing point of water is 0 degrees Celsius.
'      Boiling point of water is 100 degrees Celsius.
'      Melting point of Lead is 327.5 degrees Celsius.
'      Boiling point of Lead is 1744 degrees Celsius.
'      Boiling point of Carbon is 4827 degrees Celsius.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Portable Class Library

Supported in: Portable Class Library

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

The .NET Framework does not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.